Forgiveness after abortion

Editor’s Note: Please visit our home page for a full listing of abortion facts.

Abortion has gained a stigma in the United States that it well deserves. It is both an offense to God and a tragedy for the mother and child. The social disdain for the act reflects the knowledge of the sin and shines a painful spot-light on stinging guilt that often accompanies the horrific act. Although I do not claim to know any part of the pain and emotions that surrounds abortion I do know that God offers full-forgiveness to the hurting mothers grieving from the intentional loss of their child. 

As always, using the Bible as the source of the final Truth, we can see that even in the most heinous cases of persecution and murder God does not discriminate with his forgiveness. In fact, in the instance we are about to examine, God turned the self-admitted chief of all sinners to one of the most important, influential, and knowledgeable Christians of all time.

During the early church there was extensive persecution from both the Jewish and Roman quarters. One representative of the Jewish desire to remove Christianity through persecution was Saul of Tarsus. Saul is specifically mentioned in the Bible as one who committed many atrocities against the early Christians by zealously pursuing their death and extinction. He was present at the stoning of Steven and consented to his death (Acts 7:59 – 8:1) and actively pursued the Christians so that he might bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment (Acts 9:1). In his work Saul was “ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Act 8:3) Saul was driven by his desires to forcefully single-out Christians and bring them to their death or to the denouncement of Christ. In short, Saul was killing anyone who held to their Christian beliefs.

Saul was indeed a chief of sinners. He had attacked and killed many of the early Christians solely because of their faith. He was partly responsible for the scattering of the church (Acts 8:1) and was zealous about his acts of violence (Acts 9:1). Although we don’t know exactly how many people died under the hand of Saul it was certainly enough to cause panic in the Christian community and to spread his reputation as a Christian killer across the country (Acts 9:21). Saul had directly attacked the chosen of God causing the death of those who believed or the denouncement of Jesus Christ by those who would not die for their convictions. This is a man that was forgiven for all he had done.

Saul, on the road to Damascus, met Jesus Christ and his life changed from that moment forward. God chose the chief of all sinners to be both saved and to save thousands of others. It is through Saul’s leadership that the early Christian church flourished and laid the foundations for Christianity as we know it today. Saul’s previous guilt and sin were washed clean by Jesus taking on his sin.

If Saul, a man of such destruction and death to so many Christians, could be forgiven and used by God how much more can women who have had abortions be welcomed into the Christian family? Abortion is certainly a sin in the eyes of God but it is also certainly forgivable. Through Jesus Christ’s death after a perfect life he is allowed to be our intercessor when we are judged for our all our actions; even those as humanly horrible as abortion.

For more information on the Salvation and Forgiveness available through Jesus Christ please see:

Salvation / Forgiveness

For more information on abortion and healing, please visit the sites below: 

Silent No More Awareness

Finding Forgiveness After an Abortion

By Randy Alcorn January 21, 2010

forgiveness after abortion

There are two victims in an abortion—one dead, one damaged. If you have been dam­aged by an abortion, this  is written for you. And if you are a man who has been involved in an abortion decision—whether it concerned your girlfriend, wife, daughter, sister, friend, counselee, or parishioner—it is also for you.

Naomi Wolf looks to her conscience in responding to the attempts of society to rationalize and justify her abortion:

We don’t have to lie to ourselves about what we are doing at such a moment. Let us at least look with clarity at what that means and not white­wash self-interest with the language of self-sacrifice. The landscape of many such decisions looks more like Marin County than Verdun. Let us certainly not be fools enough to present such spiritually limited moments to the world with a flourish of pride, pretending that we are somehow pioneers and heroines and even martyrs to have snatched the self, with its aims and pleasures, from the pressure of biology.

That decision was not my finest moment. The least I can do, in honor of the being that might have been, is simply to know that.

Sadly, Ms. Wolf ends her article by imagining a world more honest and forgiving than this one: “And in that world, passionate feminists might well hold candlelight vigils at abortion clinics, standing shoulder to shoulder with the doctors who work there, commemorating and saying goodbye to the dead.”

My heart broke for Ms. Wolf as I read her article, and particularly at this ending. Though she makes a commendable attempt to be honest with herself and face the horrible truth of her abortion and her loss of a child, there is a part of her that holds onto abortion as the right decision. Unfortunately, by not fully confessing her sin, nor turning to the only One who can forgive her, she will inevitably remain haunted by her guilt feelings, which are rooted in actual moral guilt.

It is a mistake to try to eliminate feelings of guilt without dealing with the root cause of guilt. No matter how often someone may say to you, “You have nothing to feel guilty about,” your guilt feelings will remain because you know better. Only by a denial of reality can you avoid guilt feelings, but such a denial is unhealthy. It sets you up for an emo­tional collapse whenever something reminds you of the child you once carried. You need a permanent solution to your guilt problem, a solution based on reality, not on denial or pretense.

Because the Bible offers such a solution to your guilt problem, I will quote from it, citing specific biblical books, chapters, and verses. I encourage you to look up these verses in a Bible and think about them on your own.

Because of Christ’s death on our behalf, forgiveness is available to all.

The word gospel means “good news.” The good news is that God loves you and desires to forgive you for your abortion, whether or not you knew what you were doing when you had it. But before the good news can be appreciated, we must know the bad news. The bad news is that there is true moral guilt, and all of us are guilty of many moral offenses against God, of which abortion is only one. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Sin is falling short of God’s holy standards. Sin separates us from a relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2). Sin deceives us and makes us think that wrong is right and right is wrong (Proverbs 14:12). The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who loved us so much that he became a member of the human race to deliver us from our sin problem (John 3:16). He came to iden­tify with us in our humanity and our weakness, but did so without being tainted by our sin, self-deception, and moral failings (Hebrews 2:17–18; 4:15–16). Jesus died on the cross as the only one worthy to pay the penalty demanded by the holiness of God for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Being God, and being all-powerful, he rose from the grave, defeating sin and conquering death (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, 54–57).

When Christ died on the cross for us, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Greek word translated “it is finished” was commonly written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. It meant “paid in full.” Christ died so that the certificate of debt consisting of all our sins could once and for all be marked “paid in full.”

The Bible is full of offers of forgiveness for every sin.

Because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross on our behalf, God freely offers us pardon and forgiveness. Here are just a few of those offers:

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:10–14)

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18–19)

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Forgiveness is a gift that must be received to take effect.

The Bible teaches that Christ died for every person, without exception (1 John 2:2). He offers the gift of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life to everyone: “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

There is no righteous deed we can do that will earn us salvation (Titus 3:5). We come to Christ empty-handed. Salvation is described as a gift—“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). This gift cannot be worked for, earned, or achieved. It is not dependent on our merit or effort, but solely on Christ’s generosity and sacrifice on our behalf.

Like any gift, the gift of forgiveness can be offered to you, but it is not yours until you choose to receive it. There are cases where convicted criminals have been offered pardon by governors but have actually rejected their pardons. Courts have determined that a pardon is valid only if the prisoner is willing to accept it. Likewise, Christ offers each of us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, but just because the offer is made does not automatically make it ours. In order to have it, we must choose to accept it.

You may think, “But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.” That’s exactly right. None of us deserves forgiveness. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it. That’s the point of grace. Christ got what we deserved on the cross so we could get what we don’t deserve—forgiveness, a clean slate, a fresh start. Once forgiven, we can look for­ward to spending eternity in heaven with Christ and our spiritual family (John 14:1–3; Revelation 20:6, 11–22). And once forgiven, you can look forward to being reunited in heaven with all your loved ones covered by the blood of Christ, including the child you lost through abortion (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).

Because of forgiveness, we need not dwell any longer on our past sins.

God does not want you to go through life punishing yourself for your abortion or for any other wrong you have done. Jesus said to a woman who had lived an immoral lifestyle, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:47–50). Jesus was surrounded by women who were rejected by society but who found compassion, forgiveness, and hope in His love.

No matter what you have done, no sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace. God has seen us at our worst and still loves us. The apostle Paul was a murderer; he had participated in the killing of Christians. He called himself the “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15–16). Yet God not only forgave him, He elevated Paul to leadership in the church. There are no limits to the forgiving grace of God.

Having trusted God to forgive us, we must resist the temptation to wallow in our guilt, for we are no longer guilty. Accepting God’s grace does not mean pretending we didn’t do something wrong, but realizing that even though we did, we are now fully forgiven. Christ asks us to accept His atonement, not to repeat it.

Many women who have had abortions can identify with King David’s description of the anguish that plagued him long after the sinful deed was done:

When I kept silent , my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;

my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3–5)

You may feel immediately cleansed when you confess your sins, or you may need some help working through some of the things you’ve experienced. Either way, you are forgiven. You should try to forget what lies behind you and move on to a positive future made possible by Christ (Philippians 3:13–14). Whenever we start feeling unforgiven, it’s time to go back to all those verses from the Bible and remind ourselves of the reality of our forgiveness.

Forgiveness for the past should be followed by right choices in the present.

Many women who have had abortions carry understandable bitterness toward men who used and abused them, toward parents who were insensitive to their situation, and toward those who misled them or pressured them into a choice that resulted in the death of their child. God expects us to take the forgiveness He has given us and extend it to others (Matthew 6:14–15). Among other things, this frees us from the ter­rible burden of resentment and bitterness. The warm light of forgiveness—both Christ’s toward us and ours toward others—brightens the dark corners of our lives and gives us a whole new joy in living.

One of the most important things you need to do is become part of a therapeutic community, a family of Christians called a church. You may feel self-conscious around Christians because of your past. You shouldn’t. A true Christ-centered church is not a showcase for saints, but a hospital for sinners. You will not be judged and condemned for a sin Christ has forgiven. The people you are joining are just as human, just as imperfect, just as needy as you are. Most people in the church aren’t self-righteous, and those who are should be pitied because they don’t understand God’s grace.

There will be others in the church who have also had abortions. A good church will teach the truths of the Bible and will also provide love, acceptance, help, and sup­port for you. If you are looking for such a church in your area, but cannot find one, contact our organization at the address on page 406, and we will gladly help you.

One very healthy thing you can do for others and yourself is to reach out to women in crisis pregnancies. God can use your experience to equip you to help others and to share with them the love and guidance He has given you. My wife and I have a number of good friends who’ve had abortions. Through their prolife efforts they have given to many other women the help they wish someone had given them when they were pregnant. This has not only saved children from dying and mothers from the pain and guilt of abortion, but it also has helped bring healing to them. It can do the same for you.

(This article was originally published as Appendix A of ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments by Randy Alcorn)

Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash

When I was 20 years old, I loved my life. It was carefree and full of good times. School, sports, parties, and girlfriends filled my mind most days.

Until one day that changed my life forever.

A girlfriend and I discovered we were pregnant. We hadn’t planned to get pregnant, but we were. When she broke the news to me, I was a little nervous, but reassured her we’d figure out a way to make it. My empty assurance was followed by a question that would push me to a place I’d never been before. With fearful eyes, she looked at me and asked, “Are you going to be with me? Are you going to marry me?”

I was young. I had hopes and dreams and plans. I had my whole life in front of me; I wasn’t ready to be married or to raise a child. But I’m not sure I would’ve thought about it exactly like that in those days. I didn’t know how to think about serious realities. I only operated in the moment.

I told my girlfriend I wasn’t ready to get married. She knew that, but my words confirmed it. A friend gave her the $400 we needed to have “the procedure,” as they called it. I was there when she took the pill. I was there when we flushed our child down the toilet. I was there when we cried, even though we didn’t know why. And some days I’m still there.

God Intervened

I think about the fact that I never heard my child’s laughter. Never locked eyes for the first time. Never saw a smile or cheered first steps. I never heard the sound of reading or endured endless questions about why the world is the way it is. Sady, I missed all that because I didn’t value my child’s life.

My child would be 18 today. I’d be looking forward to calls about how life away from home is going.

Sometimes I think about those things. But I don’t dwell on them, because God intervened.

A year after my girlfriend’s abortion, a friend shared the good news of Jesus Christ with me. I began to read the Bible and was convinced that Jesus was indeed who he claimed to be. I learned he is the Savior of sinners, who died to take our judgment and rose to extend forgiveness. By God’s grace, I believed those truths.

One of the events the Lord used to awaken me was the abortion. Through his Word, he showed me I wasn’t the good person I thought I was. Rather, I was a person so in love with myself that I agreed to end my own child’s life in order to keep my life going in the direction I wanted.

But this is where the gospel shines light into the darkness with rays of life-giving hope. Isaiah 53:4 says of Jesus: “He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” God’s Son stepped down from his throne of glory to enter into our world of perversion and absorb the punishment we deserved. He was pierced for my transgressions so I could be guiltless. He was crushed for my sins so I wouldn’t stand condemned. He was punished so I could know peace with God.

Comfort, Grace, and Guilt

While it’s true Jesus gives peace with God, he also gives the peace of God to all who trust him. He brings healing to the scars that sin left behind. Through Christ God says to us, “Comfort, comfort, my people,” and provides a peace the world cannot give (Isa. 40:1; John 14:27).

So today, when I look back to what I did, I may still feel grief, but there is a comfort the Father of mercies gives in the midst of it. Not a comfort that says, “It’s okay, don’t feel bad,” but rather, “Do not fear, it is forgiven.” And it is from this comfort that I write these words. By God’s grace, Jesus doesn’t just forgive sinners like me; he delights in using them to help others.

Paul puts it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3–4).

Jesus entered into my broken world and gave comfort when I deserved condemnation. He gave love where I withheld it. He gave mercy where I acted murderously. Why? One reason is so I can share his grace with others facing similar sorts of brokenness.

Friend, I do not know anything about you. But the Lord Jesus Christ does. He knows where you have been and what you have done. You may have a story like mine, or you may be someone who boasts that you have no such sin. Either way, God’s grace is enough to cover your transgression and give comfort in its place. Look to Jesus and find comfort, and then give his comfort to others who need it too.

Despair vs Hope, Part Two

Restoring Hope, Finding Forgiveness

by David C. Reardon, Ph.D.

In part one of this two-part series, “The Devil’s Bargain” (Spring 1995), we examined the role of despair in the lives of women before and after an abortion. We observed that most women who choose abortion feel trapped by their circumstances or the demands of others. While their maternal side may want to nurture their child, at the same time they fear that if they do not submit to abortion, they will lose something, or even “everything” they already have–the love of their parents, their husband or boyfriend, their career, their freedom, or whatever.

Abortion, then, is an act of despair. And because despair is the opposite of hope, the abortion decision encompasses the woman in a spiritual battle. On one side is Christ who asks the woman to hold onto hope by trusting that He has a plan for her life and the life of her child. On the other side is Satan who insists that the only way to save the life she already has is to seize control of her situation and make the choice to give up this one thing (her child) for the sake of saving everything else.

But once she has chosen abortion, Satan turns on her and becomes her fiercest accuser. He charges her with the crime of an unforgivable murder, a secret shame of which she can never be free. His goal is to build up despair in her life for three reasons: to generate misery, to encourage more sin, and to create doubt in the unfathomable mercy of God. Christ, on the other hand, continues to invite post-aborted women to embrace the virtue of hope by trusting in His mercy and forgiveness.

Now, in the second part of this series, we will look more closely at how despair is an obstacle to post-abortion healing and how this despair can be replaced with hope.

For many post-aborted women, the forgiveness of God is a precept which they can mouth, but which is difficult for them to digest. How can they be forgiven? The horror of their sin is so great. Many know that they must believe in God’s forgiveness, and they do so in an act of faith. But how can they feel forgiven, when every instinct in their nature says they cannot be forgiven, even should not be forgiven?

I certainly do not have a complete answer to this complex question, but I do believe we can offer more than simply the truth that “God can forgive any sin, even abortion.” While this is a revealed truth, it is also a conclusion for which we can develop a greater appreciation if we look at some of the reasons behind this truth. As we look, I believe we will discover not only truths which must be shared with post-aborted men and women, but also truths which explain why our focus must be on ministering to them, not accusing them.

Assume that I am on a joy ride, speeding along for thrills. I see a flash of light. A bump. And I know I’ve killed someone. I run to the victim. He’s dead. An innocent man has been killed because of my negligence. My guilt is very real and well deserved. But a moment later my victim jumps to his feet alive and uninjured. Now the guilt is gone! I am spared, not by my virtue, but by his immortality.

In just the same way we have all been forgiven of murder. Because of our sins, of whatever type, each of us is guilty of crucifying Christ. Because of our sins, He was killed on the cross. His blood is on our hands. Yet on Easter Sunday, He rose from the dead. He is not dead at all! The guilt has been lifted.

Words to a Grieving Mother

“But my child did not rise from the dead,” a post-aborted woman complains. “She is truly dead, and I am guilty of her death.” But to such a woman I would respond that this is another example of her guilt being twisted into despair.

Death is an experience, not a state of being. For “God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for Him (Luke 20:38).” When your child was killed by abortion, he or she experienced death. But your child is not dead in the sense of destroyed. Your child, like all of us, is immortal. Death cannot keep her down.

C.S. Lewis explains it well when he writes, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” Damned or glorified, all people live on (Matt. 25:46).

Therefore, like Christ, your child lives. Your guilt can be removed precisely because God has already preserved your child from destruction. He lives! She lives! They all live in Him!

Remember, your abortion was a result of your failure to trust God. In giving you that pregnancy, God was giving you the opportunity to love. But you rejected this gift because you did not trust God’s plan for you. This lack of trust and obedience is at the root of all sin, yours and mine.

So it is only right that the reparation for abortion is found not by clinging to guilt and despair, but by trusting in God’s love. You failed once in rejecting His gift of a new life. But now He has a new plan for you, a second gift which He passionately desires for you–the gift of His forgiveness, the rebirth and renewal of your spirit.

To refuse God’s mercy is to refuse His love. Don’t insult Him by refusing His forgiveness. Accept God’s forgiveness, not because you deserve it, but so that God can use you as an instrument for showing the abundant glory of His mercy. Accepting the gift of God’s forgiveness is actually a humble thing to do. It is your first step toward an obedience which is rooted in both faith and hope, and it is your only escape from the tar pit of despair.

The Worst Evil

In a sense (and I write this asking the reader’s forbearance for my inability to express this more precisely), since immortal persons cannot be destroyed, the greatest tragedy in killing is what this sin does to killers. This does not deny that the killed have been unjustly deprived of life, but we know that God will be merciful toward these innocent victims. We should be more concerned about the eternal fate of killers.

Even Socrates, a pagan philosopher, recognized that, in terms of preserving the nobility of our character, inner virtue, and our very souls, it is better to suffer evil from others than to do evil ourselves. Specifically, Socrates argued that those who do unjust acts are becoming unjust; those who reject their obligations to others are becoming irresponsible.

Because he believed that moral character was more important than physical well-being, Socrates believed that harm which is done to one’s body is less important than harm done to one’s “inner self” as the result of immoral choices. In the case of abortion, he would argue, the harm done to the mother’s soul is a greater moral evil than the physical wrong suffered by the unborn child, who remains innocent.

There is nothing in this argument which is contrary to Christian thought. Indeed, Scripture teaches not only that it is preferable to suffer evil than to commit evil but that those who suffer from wrongdoing can even rejoice in being called upon to share in the suffering of Christ (1 Peter 4:13-16). As we have suggested above, the unborn child who suffers physical harm from abortion is an immortal being whose innocence will be recognized and rewarded by God. But the spiritual damage done to those who are involved in abortion, directly or indirectly, individually or socially, is immeasurable.

Let us look at the spiritual meaning of abortion from another perspective. We begin by recognizing the Judeo-Christian teaching that children are always a gift from God. Because God is the author of all life, no child is conceived by accident. Each has a part to play in God’s design. This providential purpose includes not only the child’s destiny, but the destiny of those whom the child’s life touches. For parents, the conception of a child may be intended to lead them to greater generosity, responsibility, and understanding of the meaning of unconditional and sacrificial love. (Even in the case of experimentation on in vitro human embryos, God allows these human lives to be conceived so that scientists and the eugenicists who fund them can prove their depravity and thereby justify their final judgment.) No life is created without a purpose. It is our role to simply find and cooperate with that purpose.

Thus, whenever we reject the gift of new life, we are rejecting a gift from God! Obviously, this is an insult to the Giver. But it is an insult which will be mercifully forgiven. And, as members of the body of Christ, we are called upon to be mirrors of God’s mercy and ambassadors of His forgiveness. While we can do nothing for the unborn children in heaven, there is much we can do for the women and men who have been so morally wounded by abortion.

In brief, without in any way diminishing the horror of abortion, I am confident that children killed by abortion are in the enviable position of living in the glorious presence of Christ. (The Scriptural and theological basis for this confidence will be discussed in a future article.) Furthermore, if the salvation of souls is the greatest of goods, then the damnation of souls is the greatest of evils. Thus, the greatest evil of abortion lies in the spiritual damage it inflicts on the women, men, and families (and politicians) who are ensnared by it. It is these bleeding, bruised, despairing, and even rebellious souls who are most at risk. It is they to whom Christians need to reach out with the good news of forgiveness and hope.

In summary, the greatest tragedy of abortion is that it separates men and women from God. The despair which drives women to abortion is also used to make them doubt God’s mercy. This fear, in turn, leads many to embrace atheism. For such as these, the fear of hell makes them hope for a death of annihilation: “When it’s over, it’s over.” For those trapped by despair, this is their only hope, the annihilation of self.

The yearning for peace, even in annihilation, at least partially explains why so many post-aborted women are suicidal. Others court death’s semblance in abusive relationships or the mind-deadening effects of drug or alcohol abuse. Still others just run from life, burying themselves in everything from pointless work to joyless parties–anything that distracts them from reflection.

Abortion is, of course, not the only sin which separates us from God. But to those who have had one, it almost always creates the biggest rift. To return across this chasm, they need our help, offered graciously and abundantly. In giving them hope, we will be giving them back to God.

Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review 3(4) Fall 1995. Copyright 1995 Elliot Institute

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